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  • CNBC Doesn’t Get It

    Posted by Jonathan on January 21st, 2003 (All posts by )

    It canceled the excellent Wall Street Journal editors’ talk show, the only TV show that I watched regularly. What a disappointment (and I’m not the only one who thinks so). Given the generally clueless, pointlessly argumentative, conventionally leftist journalism-school sensibility that pervades CNBC’s coverage, it was remarkable that the WSJ editors’ learned, civil, conservative discussions ever passed muster. And given the show’s uniqueness and obvious quality, the Investor’s Business Daily editorial attributing its cancelation to political bias at CNBC seems a likely explanation for what happened.

    CNBC doesn’t understand its own business. They have a franchise in financial journalism but are pissing it away trying to be like CNN. Feh. I want information not intermediation. I want more straight business news and less politics and Beltway herd-wisdom. Enough talking heads, suck-up interviews with Hugo Chavez, and pointless soundbite exchanges between “experts” chosen mainly because they disagree with each other. Such dross is abundantly available elsewhere. CNBC’s edge came not mainly from analysis, but from unfiltered presentation of basic financial information: prices, govt statistical releases, consensus projections. The WSJ show, the only decent analysis CNBC had, was icing on the cake. How fitting that it was dropped and that the junk remains.

    Increasingly, commercial television’s business model resembles the social model of an insecure teenager at an adult cocktail party: If you’re unable to say anything worth listening to, make yourself annoying enough and people will be forced to pay attention. However, given the expanding supply of news sources, this model is beginning to work as well in business as it does socially.